Review // Hydro, War & Mateba - Clair Obscur / Nostalgia

Release // Clair Obscur / Nostalgia

Artists // Hydro, War & Mateba

Label // Warm Communications

Release Date // 20.01.2017

Words by Vlad Yaremchuk

Hydro, War & Mateba are names that you’ve probably been seeing regularly throughout the last couple of months if you’re into the deeper edge of Drum & Bass. None of them can be considered newcomers to the scene by any means, but it was the second half of 2016 that brought the most attention to them. It all started with “Film Noir” EP on Horizons, which showcased how cinematic their music can get. Later on Hydro & War followed it up on Horizons with a stunningly atmospheric single “Afflicted / Virtuality” and a total surprise in the form of charming and tender tune “Jam”. But there was much more than that. Both of them teamed up with BNKR to deliver two incredible EPs. First it was War’s “Invisible” EP with a more laidback halftime track “Invisible”, which saw a remix by the hype Djrum and two cold-hearted rollers “Hundred Lights” and “Snow Blind”. Then it was Hydro’s turn with his “Ethos” EP, in which he teamed up not only with War, bringing two halftime mastodons “Faux Amis” and “Time Perception” but also with Mateba and Villem, resulting in dark sci-fi anthems “Ethos” and “Nothing To Lose”. Apart from that War brought even more ominous rolling material to Metnem; Hydro made “We’re All Wrong” with DLR and “The Feels” alongside Villem & McLeod, while Mateba treated his fans with a couple of free tracks and released a lovely tune by the name of “Syncope”. At this point it became impossible not to notice the presence of these three exceptionally talented producers and everyone was waiting to see what they will offer us in 2017. It is a pleasure to say that this wait is finally over as their brand new single is out today on Warm Communications.

Hydro, much like War and Mateba, is perfectly adept at production, which has been proven more than once by his solo releases, but it’s always so exciting to see how perfectly the styles of these three align and merge into one. So when the new release on a label with as big of a name as Warm Communications is announced you can’t help but wonder what stories they’ve prepared for us this time. The emotional picture in their tracks ranges from darker to heartwarming and both ends of this spectrum are covered in “Clair Obscur / Nostalgia”.

“Clair Obscur” reaches out and welcomes you with stretching pads and a phrase “so dark”, preparing you to the journey ahead. The drums start rolling in and bassline crawls out, taking you deeper and deeper. You finally get to the drop and after each and every second your appreciation of its complexity grows. You can feel how much thought and care was put into every drum sample and how cleverly constructed and amazingly produced the entire drum section is. You can barely find a moment where something is not changing in it and it will take more than one play to catch each and every detail. The bassline is made in the same way, it feels more like a patchwork, with its bits being in various shapes and sizes scattered all over the place. The pads were left out here, so you can enjoy the darker atmosphere brought by the beats and the bass only, but later they come back to gradually shift the emotional tone from grim to a more encouraging one, showing there’s still hope and in those mood shifts lies the beauty of this track. The title of the track is completely justified, as Clair-Obscur stands for the way light and shade is used in painting. In the track you can hear and feel how the darker and lighter tones are much stronger, when you have contrast and shift between them.

On the other side we have “Nostalgia” and it is here just to make you feel warm and good. The intro is light and smooth. It makes you want to simply take your time to enjoy it. Feels as if you are slowly roaming the empty city streets in the night, enjoying the lights and overall tranquility. Soon enough, the special feature of the track - live bass performed by Mateba, joins in and you fall in love with it from the very moment you hear it. The drop finishes putting you into this dreamy state, where your mind is finally free from the burden of thoughts, you just lose yourself in the melody and the shimmering keys, letting every note to come through your soul. The drums are not as complex as on the flipside, but for a good reason – you need to keep it simple for a tune like this. More classic and simple arrangement though doesn’t mean that it’s not as rich in details and interesting as always. These three men keep their drum game on point at all times. As well as they do with progressing the track. At no point in this entire journey you catch yourself thinking that you are bored of what you hear, the track is just so easy and pleasant to listen to, even though it’s far from being a short one.

Once again Hydro, War and Mateba have manifested their mastery at making some of the most picturesque and thought out music in the genre. This single is a perfect addition to the already stunning discography of Warm Communications – a label that keeps on showing that Drum & Bass music is indeed art.